“Living French” – London Charity Shops And An Unexpected Treasure

A person can find unexpected treasures in a charity shop. A few weeks ago, I found a copy of the paperback Living French by T W Knight in a north London charity shop.

I remember the book from my childhood, although the translations and exercises always seemed out of reach then. Not anymore. This particular version contains keys to all exercises, so the student can check their progress. And progress is possible for an adult learner, as I’ve seen for myself.

The book provides an excellent introduction to the French language, touching on more advanced grammatical points at times. The vocabulary is far from simple, requiring an eye for detail. Having completed numerous conversation-only courses, I value the opportunity to delve into a somewhat more old-fashioned approach – although I continue to listen to up to date French on a daily basis.

I believe in translating all French exercises into English by speaking (rather than writing), and by going over previous exercises at regular intervals. I also regard listening as crucial; therefore, I’m complementing Living French with studying the dialogues from the Intermediate course: French Experience 2.

Meanwhile, I hope to get my German and Russian up to a good level as well.

Till next time.


Some More Language Learning Tools

I love learning languages. French. German. Russian. I purchased these cheap tools in various north London charity shops and paid about a fiver in all:

  • COLLINS GEM French Grammar
  • German, Teach Yourself
  • AA phrasebook and CD, French

No course is perfect, but I believe the materials will help bring about an overall improvement in my studies.

Till next time.

Modern Languages, Affordable Resources

Anyone can learn a modern language these days. The internet. Libraries. And charity shops, of course.

The emphasis has switched as well, from schoolbook-like methods to studying language that’s directly relevant.

I’ve chosen Russian, German, French. I find French the easiest, followed by German, and finally Russian.

The following books, all complete with CDs, cost me just over £10 from various charity shops. I believe the resources take the student up to and beyond B1 of the Common European Framework for languages.

BBC Talk Russian, A Review

I love studying foreign languages.

This excellent course (two CDs and book) takes the total beginner through various scenarios using dialogues, role plays and short grammatical explanations. The units introduce the Russian alphabet, step by step.

The atmosphere is lively and the course covers close to a thousand words. I have gone through it, as well as the equivalent courses in French and German, and have found all three useful introductions.  

Obviously, the BBC Talk series only covers basics, but it does enable the average person to gain some knowledge of a foreign language. 

I believe the course takes the student about half the way through the A1 speaking standard set out by the Common European Framework for Languages.

Learning never stops.

Just a few of my thoughts. 

The Italian Connection

I have added Italian to my growing list of modern languages, four in all.

Learning four languages at once might sound impossible, but I do most of the studying through listening and repeating as opposed to attempting to memorise long lists of vocabulary or complex points of grammar.  To me, this seems natural.   After all, toddlers learn their native tongue through listening and repeating.

I’m using busuu, a social network site for language learning and have upgraded to the Premium option.  Excellent.

Learning The Language Game

I’ve sent out my latest novel and am waiting to hear back.  This means I have a break from writing. I’m using the extra time to polish up my foreign language skills.  I study French and German but find German much more difficult, probably because I’d already developed a working knowledge of French before starting German.

For me, language study pass through four (approximate) stages:

  • Words and phrases.  An exciting phrase because everything’s new.  This stage may seem simple, but a person can communicate with just a few words.
  • Phrases and sentences.  Less exciting, as it demands a study of grammar.  I would say that this is where I am now with German – i.e. getting confused with things like accusative endings (e.g.der and den).
  • Paragraphs and ideas.   Demanding but satisfying, requiring an understanding of verb tenses.  I believe I’m at this stage in French.  It’s enjoyable, but extremely meticulous, requiring loads of practice.
  • Pages and presentations.  My ultimate aim for both languages.

Of course, these stages are only approximates. In my case, they do not include written language study, but then my primary interest lies in conversation.

At some point, hopefully, fluency will flow.

The French Connection